How does one measure one’s effectiveness is working with people – particularly when the activity is spiritual? The Missionaries did this by counting the numbers of people who came to confession and communion as an indication.
The pastor of Brignoles was dissatisfied with the number of people who came to Communion at Easter, after the mission. Eugene’s response shows that he does not play “the numbers game.” The Missionaries were realistic and were grateful for any fruits of their preaching, no matter how small.
Allow me to quote you the following incident, in order to soften the pain that you rightly feel at the defection of a great number of your parishioners. One of the most respectable pastors of Marseilles, after noticing all the good that came to his parishioners during the mission, said to our Missionaries: “I am very happy at the present good result; but I will be very happy if five percent continue; then I would not consider our efforts lost”. –
Six months later, beaming with joy, he told us: “I am more happy than I had hoped; for your return mission you will still find more than 15. And what did he not do to achieve this result?”
And so, according to your figuring, you are much better off than he, since, by your admission, you found 50 percent at Easter; and you would undoubtedly have had more, if you had been able to get a sixth priest you were asking for at that time, for you were not able to take care of all the great number of penitents with your four assistants.
Letter to the Pastor of Brignoles, 23 August 1821, EO XIII n. 39
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